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Delta and Atlanta Win New Direct Route to China

By Roishina C. Henderson

There’s no stopping popular Zoo Atlanta giant panda bear Mei Lan and other Atlanta residents from catching a nonstop flight to China now.

The United States Department of Transportation gave its stamp of approval in late September for Atlanta to begin offering direct air service to Shanghai, China. Now interested travelers will be able to take direct flights to China on Delta Air Lines beginning in March 2008.

Delta and Atlanta Win New Direct Route to China

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters called the process to get the direct service “long-awaited and richly deserved,” referring to it as a benefit to corporate giants, small businesses and individual families. “We’re increasing our chances to compete in a global market,” said Peters, who visited the Atlanta Airport recently to make the announcement.

The application sought to expand the China route with non-stop flights from Atlanta to Shanghai in 2008 and Beijing in 2009.

“This move (to obtain direct flights to China) is a great move for Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the Southeast,” said Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s Aviation Marketing Director Jeff Pearse.

In July, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Aviation General Manager Ben DeCosta joined officials from Delta Air Lines at Zoo Atlanta to show the City of Atlanta’s support of the application for the world’s busiest airport to gain flights between the southeastern United States and China.

To seal that deal of support in July, the paw print “signatures” from Zoo Atlanta’s popular giant panda bears Lun Lun, Yang Yang and Mei Lan were stamped onto a poster-sized copy of an online petition bearing more than 20,000 signatures supporting the “Next Gateway to China” campaign.


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